Sunday, March 18, 2012

Northern Shovelers

A male Northern Shoveler, Riparian Preserve, Gilbert, AZ; 12/26/2011.
A couple of pairs of Northern Shovelers were present at the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch in Gilbert, AZ. The colorful male (Above) sports rufous flanks offset with a white breast and undertail. Its back is comprised of darker blackish / bluish feathers streaked with white edges. The Shoveler's dark green head and piercing yellow eyes holds its trademark very large black bill.

A female Northern Shoveler, Riparian Preserve, Gilbert, AZ; 12/26/2011.
The female (Above) is less colorful, mostly mottled with varigated colors of brown, but its bill is no less striking than its male counterpart. The female's bill is orange with a gray upper mandible.
A Northern Shovelr with a muddy bill from its searching the shallow pond for plankton, Riparian Preserve, Gilbert, AZ; 12/26/2011.
Shovelers are named for the way they use their bill. They swim with their heads stretched out in front of them scooping up plankton off the surface of a pond. Their large spoon-shaped bills have comblike projections along its edges which allow the water and mud to filter out leaving the food inside. The photo (Above) shows the muddy bill of a female after it has completed her shovelling up food from the muddy marsh.
Another colorful male Northern Shoveler, Riparian Preserve, Gilbert, AZ; 12/26/2011.
Summers will find the Northern Shovelers in the north western quadrant of North America (Alaska, Western half of Canada, and the North midwestern and western states of the U.S. In winter they will migrate to the southern third of the U.S. and into Mexico.
I always enjoy photographing Northern Shovelers as they always make for good bird photography with their unique pofile and their colorful plumage.

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